On a Vade Trail
The new Maharashtrian restaurant, Meena Taia��s, delights with unusual flavours
As restaurant names go, Meena Taia��s doesna��t provoke an immediate reaction a��A�but it does suggest food hot out of a Maharashtrian grandmaa��s kitchen.A�The building that houses this new entrantA�boasts a bevy of dining halls serving different cuisines across its two floors. Batlivala and Khanabhoy, which represents a Parsi food diner in true south Mumbai fashion, wasA�launched a couple of weeks ago and sits above Meena Taia��s. So too does the soon-to-open Abyssinian restaurant, which will serve Ethiopian fare a�� a firstA�for Chennai.
We arrive early, my wife and I, so as to avoid theA�SundayA�dinner time rush andA�Uday Balaji,A�co-owner and manager,A�meets us at the door. A�The 45-seater hallA�has memorabilia adorningA�the walls and ceilings a��A�from old tin carton panels to wall clocks and door panels thatA�Balaji and his brotherA�have collected over the years. But it is the food that must find mention here and so on to the menu. WeA�sit down to a glass ofA�matthaA�andA�limboo sarbatA�each, spicy buttermilk and cardamom-laced lemonade in translation. Both are fresh and cooling as are the salads to go with a��A�farasbichi koshimbirA�andA�kairichi dalA�or green beans with coconut and lime and Bengal gram with chopped raw mango and curd dried chillies.
As Pune Brahmin foods go, theA�sabudana vadeA�is primary and is served hot and crisp, as is theA�surnaache kaapA�or yam fry with accompanying coriander chutney and a peanut and curd dip. For those more meat inclined such as us, there is muttonA�kanda lasun masalaA�and theA�koli masala kolambi, boneless mutton kadai, and tossed and marinated prawns with a crisp crust. These could have been given a kick up in spice levels, though the flavours are warm and the meats very juicy.A�BalajiA�assures us that adding a spicier option is a possibility.
At the end
Malvani food, a cuisine on its own from the coast of Maharashtra, also finds a place on the menu at Meena Taia��s and we dip bread or malvani vadeA�(like a puri almost) intoA�tomato saarA�andA�kombdi rassa,A�a typical chicken curry with a coconut base. Nagpuri vade bhaatA� or crushed vada mixed into rice with chillis tempered in oil, rounds the meal out for us with so much more still described on the menu. We have just about enough space to share a piece ofA�chiroteA�and one glass ofA�piyush,A�a sweet drink made from shrikhand and curd. Maybe next time we will drop by for some other classics like pithla and bhakri and chutney che papletA�(pomfret in green chutney fried crisp).
At Venus Colony, Alwarpet.A� Meal for two (non-veg) Rs 1,500. Details: 33011687
a�� Niren Saldanha